bg-princess-cottage1.jpg My folks went to Korea and came back to their apartment. And the first thing my mother said to me is that she misses her home in New Jersey. They had moved from NJ to Brooklyn this year–it was a major upheaval, a change that hopefully will make their lives a bit easier, what with no more roof-climbing, guttering-unstuffing, snow-shoveling, garage-flood-sweeping (how does one exactly describe the action of removing water from a flooded garage?) with their new apartment a twenty-minute walk from me. We held two garage sales in New Jersey, where my husband proved his devotion to the Lee clan; we sold the house in the worst, slowest, market for sellers; we recruited friends and family to paint the new apartment walls a lovely, butter color, and they were all moved in.

There was nothing about the NJ house that my mother loved. She always bemoaned the fact that after years of struggle all they had was this small house in constant need of repair. It was a bitter reminder of how little she felt she achieved in this country after so many years of struggling to make ends meet. The garage flooded every time it sprinkled, the house was located on a busy road and so was always filled with the sound of traffic. Every time Bergen Catholic Boys High School had a football game, you could not move b/c cars lined up and parked on every available inch…but now that it’s gone, Mom is like “I miss my house. I miss the trees.”

The other thing she says once in a while is how out of place she feels here, even after 30 years, and yet when she returns to Korea, she no longer belongs to that country. (I’ve talked about this before, so sorry if this sounds familiar). The language, the clothes, the culture must all seem so different when she goes back, I imagine (though I can’t possibly know, not really). And I, perpetually trying to be tough-daughter-not-falling-for-that-immigrant-melancholy-bit, get impatient and try to rationalize the situation. Well, if you’re not happy in one place and it’s not like you’re starving, you’re not going to be happy in the next one. I’m like, come on seriously, couldn’t you start to adjust after 30 years in a new country?

But then, I soften. Like I miss that house in New Jersey too. I grew up in it and fell in love in it for the first time, and I had a Schwinn ten-speed I always wiped out on that collected dust in the garage (inevitably, I flipped over the handle bars every time I got on), and then there were the nights in high school when we all used to sneak out past curfew to drink tea at Alex’s or the times in junior high school where we were so bored I’d invite my friend Jen over to make marshmellow cake icing (b/c that was the only ingredient in my house that could remotely be used in a Joy of Cooking recipe). You know, I think about that idea, that feeling of being displaced and never feeling quite at ease somewhere, at home, and then, I feel terrible for my mom. Even though I do firmly believe we end up in situations of our choosing and we can, if not control, at least influence, how we feel (sometimes with a great deal of work; being chipper is not easy), I feel sorry for her, because among the things I really want, like any good child, is for my mom to be happy.

Jigsaw mania

jigsaw_pieces.jpg Further proving my husband’s theory that I’m a senior citizen masquerading as a young wife, I really love jig saw puzzles. Nothing like putting on PJs on at 7 p.m., having a glass of wine, and settling in with good Internet radio and a jigsaw puzzle. Yeeeeeeee haaaaaaw! Look out!

There’s one on our floor right now that I got from a thrift store for $1.50, and unfortunately, has some pieces missing. (I wonder if they’re crucial?) I’ve been working on it for like a year. (I’m not totally retarded–just like five percent, and I promised myself that I would file taxes after I completed it, which may partially be why I haven’t finished the puzzle yet.) It’s like 4 feet by 3 feet, and I have it right in front of the TV in our living room. Well, what would be considered the “living room,” because the word “room” kind of implies areas of an apartment that are separated by walls, and we’re in a studio. We don’t have tons of space. Anyway, two days ago, we both woke up cranky b/c we both had trouble falling asleep for different anxiety-provoking work situations and he stubbed his toe on the puzzle several times, before finally yelling when I was going to move the puzzle. And because he sounded mad at me, I got mad at him for being mad at me. (Yeah! I’m healthy! Rock on!)

But when we both settled down, I saw his point. Big, unfinished, dusty jig saw puzzle taking a quarter of the living room floor for close to a year? I suppose I could concede that point. I’m just worried if I put it away I won’t ever finish it. I don’t need a gigantic home, but maybe one large enough where I can have an official Jigsaw Puzzle Table and I won’t ever have to put it away. That is my new dream. That, and like really awesome abs. *Sigh*

Pie Confessions

humblepie2.gif I went to a BBQ at my friend Joslyn’s house. And Joslyn is kind of known for her pies. She makes these insane pies from her grandmother’s recipes, where the crust has thousands of layers due to the industrial strength Crisco she gets. On the rare occassions my husband is free to come with him, I don’t have the heart to point out to him that technically, since he’s a vegetarian Buddhist, he really shouldn’t eat them, since Crisco is lard is ANIMAL FAT (mmmm). You know, that whole Transmigration of Souls thing.

Her party was fun. There were eight-year-olds, so I hung out with them and ended up ignoring the majority of adults. The girl Jet is going to science camp where they’re learning to make bubble gum (dude, can I quit my job to make gum?) and she and her brother amused themselves collecting beer bottles caps (just don’t share that with Child Protection Services) and tricking people into taking beer bottles filled with water.

Joslyn made this phenomenal strawberry rhubarb pie and her husband made three kinds of homemade ice cream. And it was, as I promised, incredibly delicious. But I kept thinking about the store-bought key lime pie the kids mom Tanya bought, even though I know what it’ll taste like, I was thinkng of stealing a sliver…and this is b/c…I am pathetic. When Joslyn reads this, I hope she won’t be offended, b/c this not about her cooking (are you kidding? She made me an apple pie once for my birthday and I ate almost all of it in two days. SICK, and yet strangely wonderful.) but I am one of those retarded people who always wonder about the unopened door, the path not taken, I can’t be all content with the choice I did make. Like when I chose to get a fattening item with my friend Jesse, I ordered mac and cheese (delish). And while I enjoyed it, i couldn’t ignore the voice in my head that kept saying “I should have ordered the calamari.” I’m such a haunted soul.

Big Brother

bbc19842.jpg I don’t really write about work, not due to lack of material. What, with office antics that mirror the smiling schemers of “All About Eve” or executives practicing the murderous rage worthy of Tony Soprano on underlings, there’s plenty in my petri dish. No, I avoid writing about work more…out of fear of being sued. Don’t people sue you when they find out you complain about the job on the Web? I can write about my parents b/c 1) they won’t sue b/c I’m family and 2) they don’t know about this blog. Probably it’s quiet on my end b/c I mostly don’t tell people about this blog.

But back to my risque subject matter. So the things I briefly summarized above are demanding work conditions, but to make matters worse, they cut off our access to our personal email accounts! People, I feel like one of my toys got taken away, and for what reason? We all work there more than 9 to 5 hours and certainly, they don’t block us from accessing our office email from home, nor hesitate to blackberry or cell phone us for the slightest need. I mean, whatever, I work very hard, and I know it’s pretty typically corporate to block personal email. They say it’s to prevent viruses, but you know it’s more b/c they don’t want you to have fun at all during the day.

All that kvetching aside, what really ticked me off was the way the news was delivered. I got a call, and the Voice on the Phone asked “When did you last access your personal email?” And me, feeling guilty for my compulsive emailing, said “not in a while” (translation: an hour.) Then the Voice on the Phone started ticking off each time I had logged on — “Actually, you were on 11:52, 12:11, 1:28, etc.” — and it got creepy. Like the Voice on the Phone was all A-HA! I CAUGHT YOU IN THE ACT! Of what exactly? Did I steal something? Do I not do a good job? I had always heard that offices monitor your Internet usage, and ours has a reputation of reading all our office email, but I just presumed that there are other good reasons why we’re never able to get printer toner. I assumed they were busy with worthy causes, like putting out server fires, not trying to have face-offs with employees about Internet usage.

I felt all violated, man, like I was attacked by a warped version of Dilbert, a small-minded, mean-spirited nerd, for lack of a better word, obsessed with a petty agenda of vengeance. We all said Big Brother is watching in response. So consider this a Public Service Announcement: they read your email and they are timing you!!! And also, friends, while y’all are circulating funny chain emails, think of me…suffering. Ha ha ha ha.

Depeche Mode


Sadly, I still listen to the same music I did in high school. I just bought a remix of old Depeche Mode songs, and I’m like, is this sad? I mean, the same music that appealed to me in tenth grade is still my musical preference? Friends try to expand my horizons with new CDs and mixes, and I like them, but find myself returning to my old stand-bys. I heart Dave Gahan!


images6.jpg Sometimes I miss acting purely for the outfits. I really want a job where I can wear a wig and a sweat shirt with a puffy photo of two kittens frollicking with a ball of yarn, you know, something completely unflattering and unrelated to my life. My friend Alex suggested that I start wearing wigs in my regular life, but nah, that’s not why I dig it. I like pretending to be someone else on stage or on film, I don’t really need the attention in real life, does that make sense?

I went wig-shopping with my mother yesterday. Once she gets an idea in her head, she’s a bit like the racing horse with blinders, she will not be deterred, regardless of how retarded the ideas. Like she wants to stop dying her hair (probably TMI about my mom that she would prefer I don’t share, so do me a favor and don’t bring it up with her), so she’s thinking wigs are the way to go. Someone at her job wears a different one everyday, which is how she got the idea — never mind the fact that a wig cap and wig might be uncomfortable or too hot after nine hours of wearing. Just saying.

We went to Fulton Street Mall in Brooklyn, to a discount wig store catering to a mostly African American population, and my parents kind of have no clue about race and cultural differences between all of us, blah blah blah, so that was kind of fun to watch them navigate that. Since the wigs targed African American women, the color options worked for an Asian face and the caps were adjustable despite my mother’s fear that her head would be too gigantic for any normal size wig (like mother like daughter. I too have a gigantic noggin.)

There were like signs every where advertising the strict rules: YOU MUST BUY A WIG CAP! YOU MAY ONLY TRY ON THREE WIGS!!!! She tried on three wigs — one that was conservative bob with red streaks, and then two others that were permed with bright blonde streaks and kewpie bangs, which made me urge to her to start an all-girl Japanese anime band. She looked like a hip bassist.

There were three tiny kids watching us, two boys around 8 and a 3-year-old girl. Where their mother was? I dunno. But after watching my mom, one of them whispered “That one looks nice, Chinese lady,” and I startled them by saying “Did you just say ‘that one looks nice Chinese lady?’ I have supersonic hearing you know.” And then chaos ensued. The little boys took my friendliness as a cue to try on the wigs and accompany each one with a funky dance or walk. Me and my dad laughed so hard. I did get a little nervous when one of them eyed the $75 wig, b/c I don’t want them to get into too much trouble. Where was their mom? Is the security camera catching all of us messing around? And at the same time, there are times when I have hung out with little kids where I completely abandon adult responsibility. I’m worse. I encourage them to act out and laugh and challenge them to thumb wrestling and am the worst loser. It’s like Vince Vaughn possesses my soul for a moment. [I’ll blog about my Thanksgiving face-off with an 8 year old next.]

And then one of them told me I ought to trying them on to…and I’m such a rule follower and I was kind of tired that I didn’t bother. What a lost opportunity!!! Mom ended up buying the conservative bob with red streaks, the one the Peanut Gallery voted for. Look out world.

Thai food

images5.jpg Nothing profound today, but I just think there are too many Thai restaurants in NYC and Brooklyn. Does Brooklyn really need 10 Thai restaurants in the radius of a mile? Can I please order something other than pad thai? The final insult was when a new pan-Asian (not technically Thai but does offer pad thai on the menu) replaced Taco Madre on Montague Street of Brooklyn. Where else can a girl enjoy $1.95 tacos alongside the homeless? No where, my friend, that’s where. I’m thinking of organizing a Thai food boycott to introduce a little more variety to the restaurant world….except that I’m essentially a sedentary person and a boycott sounds suspiciously like…exercise.

Turns out…I heart zombies!

I didn’t used to like zombie or any kind of horror movie, but I’ve changed. Finally, in my thirties, I embrace zombies! In the 70s, zombies used to kind of wander around at the pace of sleepwalkers and their victims, instead of easily outrunning these flesh-eating predators, would become paralyzed by fear and inaction and just bump into walls, making themselves easy targets for the undead.

In “28 Days Later” (which I saw after my Chipotle margarita and is not a great flick and presumably a worse flick than its predecessor “28 Days Later”), the zombies don’t meander aimlessly — they freaking sprint! They’re downright Olympic-quality athletes, people! There’s a scene, where Robert Carlyle is racing in bright daylight away from a zombie-invested house in a pretty English country setting, and on the horizon of the hills is a full line of zombies marathoning at full speed to his fresh blood! The palpable anxiety on this actor’s face and the 60 zombies after him set to a great rock song was an awesome distraction from office politics! Neck biting! It’s way distracting from run-of-the-mill stress.

This picture, coupled with the hilarious “Shaun of the Dead,” has confirmed my zombie love for life.

Tearing it up at chipotle

images4.jpg After an awfully stressful work week (last week) thank goodness I have pals to kick back and blow off steam with. Admittedly, Chipotle is a Disneyfied funhouse, but really, I would drink almost anywhere that offers $3.95 margaritas. We were getting so giggly and rowdy we were concerned about getting kicked out. It is a brightly lit, family-style corporate dining establishment after all, owned by McDonald’s no less. We pity the fools at Quiznos, man, drinking their sodas. After one margarita, I was ready to go home. Par-taaaaay! Senior citizen style, yes!

silver lining


Oy, my job is insanely busy with both stuff to get done and internal politics, including a mind meld between my bosses and my main competitor. We might have to sue the previous tenant of my parents’ place to get money they owe. I need about a kabillion hours more of sleep.

But at least I had a good hair day. Seriously, it looked really good. Gloooorious. See? There’s always a silver lining.